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Barbara Hines: New Family Detention Centers a Step in Wrong Direction

The Dallas Morning News ran an op-ed by Professor Barbara Hines on Monday against ICE's proposal for three new family detention centers of up to 200 beds each. Hines is a professor at the University of Texas' Immigration Law Clinic and was an attorney for detained children in the lawsuit challenging conditions at Hutto.

Here's a highlight from the article:

These facilities, each to be built with up to 200 beds, will expand the system of family detention made controversial in recent years at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas.

The proposal for new centers is a step in the wrong direction. Congress has repeatedly called on ICE, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for immigration matters, to implement alternatives to detention programs for families, stating that detention of families should be the last alternative and not the first.
In 2006, when I first went to Hutto, I was appalled by the living conditions. Children as young as infants, along with their families, were detained in a converted medium-security prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit prison management corporation. Children received one hour of education a day and wore prison uniforms. They were required to be in their cells for long periods during the day to be present for multiple cell counts.

Many of the detainees at Hutto have come to the United States fleeing persecution or social turmoil — asylum seekers fleeing civil conflict in Eastern Africa, Iraqi Christians targeted by fundamentalists and Central Americans seeking refuge from drug, gang and domestic violence. No detainee has been accused of a crime.

Check out the full op-ed, and our previous coverage of ICE's new family detention proposals: